Earl Foss' Brown Derby

Earl Foss' Brown Derby


Old school country with a modern twist, performed by a crack 6-piece band completed by male/female vocal harmonies. Goes down well with a beer. Check us out at www.myspace.com/brownderby, or see some video at www.youtube.com/moedis21


Like most good things, Earl Foss’ Brown Derby happened almost by accident. Singer John Kunert , drummer Tony Sales, Jr. and guitarist Ralph Lansing had for years been kicking around the idea of starting an old-school country band, inspired by an appreciation for artists like George Jones, Waylon Jennings, and Gram Parsons and a mutual distaste for top-40 country music.

In December 2005, while living in Madison, WI, they decided to actually make it happen. They set up a couple of small free shows at a coffee shop and a pizza parlor in early January of 2006, and then set about finding musicians to round out the band and learn some songs that Kunert had written over the past few years along with a few old covers. After adding Lansing's roommate (Pete Foss) on bass and Kunert's bicycle-racing buddy (Andrew Harrison) on lead guitar, they started practicing.

At first the group seemed like an odd match: A couple of them had hardly ever listened to country music before. Everybody came from different musical backgrounds, ranging from punk to classical. Harrison had a degree in guitar performance. Before picking up a guitar, Kunert had learned the bass by playing along to old Elton John albums, and the Carpenters. Sales' dad and uncle had played with Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

Kunert and Lansing had grown up listening to old country music in Austin, MN, though, and everyone else thought that the project would be fun. So Lansing lent Foss a Waylon Jennings album to get an idea of what country bass should sound like, and the band started rehearsing.

After a few practices, everyone started to realize that they actually sounded pretty good together. Kunert kept on writing new songs, so they scuttled the covers. After a few more practices, they played the shows.

Those first two shows were fun, but Sales left to spend the next 9 months in Italy. The others kept at it, though, and found a stellar chap named Jordan Parker to fill in on the drums. Kunert kept writing new songs, the band played occasional shows, and by the spring of 2006 Sam Tokheim and Kristin Kehl had joined the group, adding pedal steel, female vocals, and a touch of mandolin. In July 2006, the band spent a weekend in Fond Du Lac, WI, recording at a friend’s home studio. In two days, the band recorded the eight songs that make up its debut EP, “This Drinkin’ Life." Parker played on the recording, but Sales returned from Italy in August 2006 to rejoin the band.

In September 2006, the band self-released their tour CD, "This Drinkin' Life," celebrating with shows in Madison, Minneapolis, and Austin, MN. The EP has received positive press, such as the following:

"With Major influences like George Jones and the original cosmic cowboy Gram Parsons as guides, Madison newcomers Earl Foss' Brown Derby Band have produced one of the better country disks to come out of this gussied-up cow town in recent memory..." --The Isthmus (madison weekly paper)

..."This Drinkin' Life" is your father's father's country blues. Think Gram Parsons only more down and depressed...a perfect study in that great guitar twang sound that Nashville has abused for far too long. Good stuff..." --Smother Magazine

The CD has received significant airplay on Madison's WORT-FM radio, and the band has also done a handful of live on-air performances for the station. Additionally, Madison's WYOU-TV filmed and recorded an in-studio performance by the band, which was subsequently broadcast four times on that station.

With Sales on drums again and an EP to share, the band has maintained a steady performance schedule since the fall of 2006, sharing the stage with regional and national artists like: The Wilders, Foghorn String Band, Sleeping in the Aviary, the .357 String Band, the Get Up Johns, Western Fifth, Mad Trucker Gone Mad, Owen Temple, Dear August, Pupy Costello, the Ashtray Hearts, The Starlings, Josh Harty, Blake Thomas, Dietrich Gosser, Romi Mayes, Scott Nolan, No River City, Hayward Williams, Blueheels, The Starlings, Flame Shark, T.G. Sheppard, Pale Young Gentlemen, the Candliers, and many more.

The band has performed at a wide variety of events and venues. We have performed (or will perform) at the following festivals: the Motongator Festival (Wallace, MI), CountryUSA festival (Oshkosh, WI), Willy Street Fair (Madison, WI), Golden Days Harvest Festival (Green Lake, WI). We have performed at the following clubs: Uptown Bar, 331 club (Minneapolis, MN); Stonefly Brewery, Cactus Club, Riverwest Commons (Milwaukee, WI); High Noon Saloon, Club Tavern, Cafe Montmartre, King Club, Crystal Corner, Mickey's Tavern, Corral Room, Glass Nickel Pizza Co., Indie Coffee, Mother Fools, etc. (Madison, WI); Isabella's (Dubuque, IA). We have also performed at two historic Iowa Ballrooms and several several small bars around Wisconsin and Minnesota.

A Minneapolis webzine called howwastheshow.com reviewed a Brown Derby performance at the Uptown B


LP/CD - "This Drinkin' Life"
Self-Released, 2006

4 streaming audio tracks from the CD are located at: www.myspace.com/brownderby

2-minute clips from all the CD's songs can be heard at: http://cdbaby.com/cd/earlfossbd

some old live performance videos are posted at: www.youtube.com/moedis21

Set List

We have over 2 hours of original material, augmented by an evolving repertoire of covers. A typical 1-hour set includes all of the material from our CD, augmented by a cover of "Milwaukee Here I Come," a cover of the Buckaroos' instrumental, "Chapperalle," and some newer unrecorded material.